Hello, today we’re learning about the creation of the Constitution. It all began with the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence was written by Thomas Jefferson and it declared that America should break away from Britain and become an independent nation. Following the exit from Britain, the Articles of Confederation, the original constitution of the US, was ratified in 1781
What happened to the Articles?
Good question. Well, they began seeing weaknesses due to their lack of an Executive branch, and decided to draft a new supreme law of the land. This began the constitutional convention, which took place from May 14 to September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The intended purpose of the event was decide how America was going to be governed. The first major issue was the division of representation in Congress. Smaller states wanted equal representation, while larger states wanted it to be based on population
Two major plans were drafted: The New Jersey Plan which called for a single house congress with equal membership for all states, and The Virginia Plan, which called for a two house legislature with membership based on state population. Voters would elect officials in the lower house, and these elected officials would choose who would serve in the higher house. A lengthy debate ensued between these two plans, however they seemed to be getting nowhere.__________________________________________They compromised!
Well how did they decide?
Roger Sherman proposed ‘The Great Compromise’. This called for a two house congress, where the Senate (upper house) would have equal state representation and the House of Representatives (lower house) would have representation based on state population. This was a compromise for both the large states and small states. However, there was another dispute. Whether slaves should be counted towards a state’s population
Southern states wanted slaves to count, as they had many of them. Northern states, however, felt as though this would give the southern states too much power. A compromise was found here too, called the three-fifths compromise. This states that three fifths of a states’ slaves would be counted as population. This ended one of the more major disputes, however there was still conflict.
In fears of repeating issues from Great Britain, Separation of Powers, or the dividing power between state and national government to prevent one party with too much power, was established. With it came a three branch system, where the Legislative Branch makes laws, Executive Branch carries out laws, and Judicial Branch interpret laws. However, this was not enough for some people.